(L-R) Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President Marketing Dubai Duty Free; Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Duty Free; Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free; Elina Svitolina; His Highness Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, President of Tennis Emirates; Caroline Wozniacki; Salah Tahlak, Executive Vice President Corporate Services Dubai Duty Free, and Tournament Director; Abdul Rahman Falaknaz – Vice President, Tennis Emirates
25 January 2017 -- Dubai, UAE: Elina Svitolina claimed the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title with a hard-fought 6-4 6-2 win over Caroline Wozniacki. Not only did Svitolina win the biggest title of her career, but she will make her top 10 debut next week. It was the second title in a month for Svitolina, who also won in Taipei, and a second final in two weeks for Wozniacki after she also finished as runner-up in Doha.
Svitolina's forehand worked like a dream and made it difficult for Wozniacki to launch a counter-attack. She always held the upper hand after breaking to lead 3-2 in the first set. The seventh seed then held a set point on Wozniacki's serve at 5-3 but then had to fight off three break points as she served out the set. Wozniacki double-faulted to gift Svitolina a break for 1-0 at the start of the second set, and although the number 10 seed immediately broke back her reprieve was short-lived. Svitolina was not to be denied her victory and she swept the last five games, clinching the match with a spectacular winner down the line.
Listen: DDFTC 2017 Final - Report (mp3)
With so much at stake in one match there was added pressure on Svitolina, and she said, "It's big relief that I could win this match, because I knew that if I gonna win this match, I'm gonna be top 10. There was extra pressure. When I was warming up, added even more pressure because they announce it. It didn't help! I'm really happy the way I played the match. It was the way I was working on, and I'm really happy that I could play my game today."
She also had the pressure of following up her semi-final victory over the top seed and world number two Angelique Kerber, which took a lot out of her.
"I tried to, after that match, I tried to straightaway analyze and try to focus on the next match. Don't really think about what I did wrong or what was not working, because yesterday was up and down and the end of match was very frustrating for me. I lost lots of energy, mental tiredness, as well. It was very tough. But in the end, you know, I said to myself, Come on, you can do it. Give everything what you have. This is the final. So just last push, and then you can just enjoy."
Wozniacki admitted that she had faced a very difficult opponent at the top of her game, and regretted that she had not been able to level at 5-5 when she had the chance.
"She gets a lot of balls back. She mixed up the pace well. She did what she had to do today," said Wozniacki. "I think I started off really well. I feel like I was inside the court a lot. You know, I was dictating and playing well. Then I kind of felt like I ran out of steam a little bit and she took advantage of that. She stepped it up a little bit. She played really well, got a lot of balls back. She mixed up the pace when she needed to. She was serving better than me today. I really tried hard. Obviously it's frustrating when you see what you want to do out there and you just can't do it. You know, that's the most frustrating feeling. I feel like if I had gotten, you know, maybe to 5-All or, you know, gotten a little bit closer in that first set, it could have been different."
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina claimed the doubles title with a 6-2 4-6 10-7 victory over Andrea Hlavackova and Shuai Peng. The champions were playing their second final of the year after finishing as runners-up in Brisbane, and their titles last year included both the Olympics and WTA Finals. Makarova now has 10 doubles titles and Vesnina, who also reached the Dubai final in 2012, has 16. The runners-up were playing their fifth final in just their seventh tournament as a pair, and they were seeking a second title this year after winning in Shenzhen and also finishing as runners-up at the Australian Open.
"We congratulate our new champion, Elina Svitolina, on her wonderful performance, and we are proud that it is her victory here that has elevated her into the top 10," said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. "We also congratulate our Dubai Duty Free Ambassador, Caroline Wozniacki, on another fine week in Dubai that has seen her reach a milestone of 22 wins here, more than any other player. We were also able to enjoy a doubles final between two of the best teams in the world, and congratulate Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina on their success."
Tournament director Salah Tahlak added, "We have enjoyed a fitting climax to what has been a fantastic week of tennis. Now we turn our attention to the 25th anniversary of the ATP World Tour event which features many more top stars. We don't know who will emerge as the winner but know that spectators will once again be guaranteed many more entertaining battles."
The tournament continues between 27th February and 4th March with the 25th staging of the ATP World Tour event which includes Wimbledon, Olympic and ATP World Tour Finals champion and world number one Andy Murray, seven-time Dubai winner and Australian Open champion Roger Federer, defending Dubai champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and the entertaining Gael Monfils.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and "organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets are still available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. Tickets are also available online through www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.